At first glance, the roughly 15 people standing in the parking lot of the Sun Valley Brewing Co. in Hailey on Wednesday morning didn't seem to be doing much except chatting.
But a closer look revealed the campaign stickers many were wearing and the large tour bus across the way, signaling the start of the Idaho Republican Party's bus tour through the Wood River Valley.
"Nov. 2 is going to be interesting," Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa told a constituent who'd turned up at the event. "People are frustrated, they're angry."
This anger, Ysursa said, may help incumbent Republicans retain their seats in Boise, or even replace some local Democrats with Republican candidates.
Two local candidates tagged along on the whirlwind tour of Blaine County: Alex Sutter, who is running against Democrat Donna Pence for the District 25B House seat, and Jim Donoval, who is running against Constitution Party candidate Randy Patterson and Democratic candidate Michelle Stennett for the District 25 Senate seat.
"It's been a really interesting day," Donoval said.
Donoval followed the tour from the Sun Valley Brewing Co. to the Splash & Dash gas station in Bellevue, which he and Sutter agreed had the best turnout in the Wood River Valley.
Bob and Lynne Nicholson, Sun Valley residents and self-described conservatives, met the candidates in Hailey and followed them to Bellevue afterward.
"We need a crowd!" Bob Nicholson said. "They come this close, we have to see them."
"It's a hike!" said Gov. Butch Otter of the two-week tour.
When asked if it's difficult to participate in a bus tour while still running the state, Otter admitted it was a bit of a struggle, but that he manages it.
"I'm on the phone with the office all the time," he said. "You still have to govern."
The turnout and response have been good so far, Ysursa and Otter agreed. Otter said that on Tuesday, the tour had a reception in Burley that drew more than 300 voters to the Sweetheart Manor to meet and greet the candidates.
Sutter said the response in the Wood River Valley was good as well, and that the response in Gooding was "incredible." Donoval, too, seemed encouraged by the number of voters who turned out in District 25.
"There's energy in the campaign," he said.
Once completed, the tour will have visited more than 70 communities all over the state, from Coeur d'Alene to Salmon to Blackfoot to Boise.
"We've been all over," Ysursa said.
The tour had stopped in Salmon the night before after making 13 stops, and the candidates made nine stops throughout south-central Idaho on Wednesday, beginning in Hailey and ending in Twin Falls.
The Republican candidates will continue their tour through Saturday, ending with the University of Idaho homecoming game.
Katherine Wutz: email@example.com